Process – Not Enough vs. Too Much

I find in talking with business leaders that business processes can sometimes have a negative connotation. In some cases, the thought of layering on processes and standardization into a small, creative team can appear to kill the creativity and flexibility of the team. In other cases, the thought of putting together documented processes seems like a huge time commitment and then they don’t get followed, making it a waste of resources.

Proven Process Is Good

This would seem to be intuitive, but that is not always the case. The more often you can have a critical process in your business happen the best way, the most efficient way, and the same way each time, the better off you are. This could be the process for building a product, the process for delivering a service, or the process for billing a customer.

Process Builds Scalability

When you are looking at growing and scaling your business, the more processes you have in place, the more likely you are to be able to grow in a stable manner while maintaining quality and productivity.

If you have a defined process for building a product, then you can add more people to your fulfilment department and increase your throughput without a lot of training or quality control issues because the process is documented.

Process Enhances Creativity

There is a little more to unpack here, so stick with me for a minute. One of the biggest arguments I find against documented processes are that they stifle creativity. This can definitely happen if processes are not developed correctly.

When approaching process development, take a 20/80 approach. This means document the top 20% of the steps in the process that given you 80% of the value.

If you attempt to document every step and every detail in a process, you will end up with a huge process manual that takes a ton of time to create and nobody will ever look at it again.

Instead, if you document the top 20%, leaving the little, less important pieces out, then your processes are much easier to work with, take less time to create, and allow for creativity and flexibility still.

For example, with a payment collections process … suppose one client responds better with a phone call vs. another via email. Do you build out this workflow in your process with the detail to say if client prefers phone call, call the main point of contact 3 days before the due date, then call again on the due date …. you get the point.

Instead, trust that your team has a brain on their shoulders and figure out the best method to reach out to the customer to receive payment.

Goldilocks and the 3 Processes

Just like the nursery rhyme goes …

too much process kills creativity, takes too long to create, and does not get followed
too little process invites consistency issues and makes it difficult to scale
… and a 20/80 process is just right.